BROOKLINE, Massachusetts – Before Sunday, Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick had never won a pro golf tournament in the United States.
He has now won two of the world’s biggest golf events on the same course. Nine years after the U.S. Amateur victory near Boston at The Country Club, Fitzpatrick won his first PGA Tour at the 122nd U.S. Open on the same track on Sunday, winning a one-time victory over Will Zalatoris and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.
Fitzpatrick joins Jack Nicklaus as the only male golfer to win on the same course for U.S. amateurs and the US Open (Nicklaus did so at Pebble Beach in 1961 and 1972).
Here are five things we learned at this week’s US Open:
1. It was Fitzpatrick’s time
Fitzpatrick became the first player to win his first major tournament, the PGA Tour, after Englishman Danny Willett won the 2016 Masters. But it’s not that Fitzpatrick has won before as a professional.
Fitzpatrick, 27, won the European Tour seven times (now the DP World Tour), including twice at the DP World Tour in Dubai. He had moved in the right direction at the major events: last month he finished 14th at the Masters and fifth at the PGA Championships in Southern Hills. His performance in the Southern Hills, perhaps more than any other, proved to Fitzpatrick that he could compete at that level.
“Because it’s a big event, it’s quite different from a regular PGA Tour event,” Fitzpatrick said. “At the end of the day, it ‘s just very hard to beat them. I don’t think until Southern Hills I could really appreciate how hard it was to win the main event.
“I think including myself and people from outside think it’s easier than it is. You just have to look at the Tiger [Woods]. He shot so fast. That’s why I think people think, “Oh, it’s a piece of cake; it’s like a regular Tour event. But it’s not.”
And, of course, Fitzpatrick’s history at The Country Club gave him an advantage that others did not have. He lived in the same house with the same host he had at the 2013 U.S. Amateur Competition.
“I definitely think it gives me an advantage over others, yes,” Fitzpatrick said the night before the final round. “I really believe that. It’s a real, obviously positive moment in my career. It kind of gave me a boost.”
2. Rory is the face of the PGA Tour
McIlroy from Northern Ireland was once again unable to end his eight-year drought without a major championship. After winning the 2014 PGA Championship in Valhalla, he is now 0-29 in major tournaments.
McIlroy, 33, was at The Country Club over the 4-year weekend, but never got anything on Saturday and Sunday, at least not too late. He mapped the birdie at 14 and 15, but missed a good chance on the last two tracks.
“It’s not a win or a loss,” said McIlroy, who finished in 5th place. “It’s not that where I left is the same as not playing at the weekend. I think if I look back, do I remember finishing fifth in Brookline? Probably not. … I played well enough, to give myself success. A chance to win. I didn’t get the job done, but I’ve been closer than I have been for a while, which is good. “
But McIlroy’s best work came at the beginning of the week when he stood for the PGA Tour again. He criticized the younger players who left LIV Golf for the “easy way out” and called their decisions short-sighted.
“I see. Yes, because many of these men are in their late ’40s,” McIlroy said. “Philis [Mickelson’s] case, early 50s. Yes, I think everyone in this Chamber would say that their best days are over. That’s why I don’t realize that boys like me are leaving, because I want to believe that my best days are still ahead of me and I think they are too. So here it feels like you’re choosing an easier way out. ”
3. The USGA understood correctly
The Country Club has not hosted the US Open since 1988, when Curtis Strange defeated Nick Faldo in the playoffs. Hopefully the USGA won’t wait 34 years to bring it back to a club outside of Boston.
Overall, the golf course and equipment received commendable reviews from players. Yes, it was hard. The wind was whirling, the third rough was at the depth of the ankle, and the green was small and strong. Night rains and weaker winds prevented typical US Open conditions.
“Except for the smallest chipping green, I thought it was the best place I’ve played in a while,” Collin Morikawa said on Sunday. “There have only been a handful of courses where I really step into real estate and you’ll see it for a short time and then you think you’ll like it, and it was one of them. Not near BS. It’s a good golf course.
“You really have to plan your path. You have to think about it. I thought it was a track that you could play pretty well on and that could hurt your back pretty quickly. I have both ends, but overall I liked it.
The USGA has been heavily criticized in the recent past for the terms of the US Open, but pay tribute to it for doing it right. Tyrrell Hatton didn’t even complain.
“It just rained a bit on the golf course [Saturday], so it was a little more receptive than the whole week, which is probably why you see lower points in the areas, “said Gary Woodland, winner of the US Open in 2019.” The wind has now subsided a bit. It would have been interesting if we hadn’t rained last night. I think it would be like yesterday. But [Saturday] was what they wanted, and that’s what you want at the US Open. It was hard. The conditions were cruel. The golf course is perfectly set up. ”
4. LIV Golf men didn’t have a good week
The construction of the US Open focused on the ongoing struggle for the soul of professional golf between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. The circuit is run by former world leader Greg Norman and funded by the Saudi National Investment Fund.
The USGA found itself in a difficult situation when PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan stopped 17 players for playing outside LIV Golf last week in London. Some of these players, including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Kevin Na, had already made it to the field with exceptions and it would not have been fair to throw them out afterwards.
However, when the tournament started on Thursday, the LIV Golf list was not very important. Only four of the 15 players who competed in the London event or have announced they will play next in Portland, Oregon, made it to the US Open. None of those who stayed for the weekend played very well. Johnson was the highest graduate over 4. Englishman Richard Bland was over 8, Patrick Reed over 10 and Bryson DeChambeau over 13.
This is currently a problem for LIV Golf. Outside of Johnson, most of the players who left the Tour are either outdated or in their former selves. Reed has not won since January 2021 and has only the top ten in 20 starts this season. DeChambeau has not won since March 2021 and is working his way back from left-handed surgery. He has only started seven this season. It was his seventh consecutive finish in the top 25 in the biggest tournament of his career.
The enmity of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf will not end soon. Although most of the top players, including Scheffler, Zalatoris, Morikawa and McIlroy, say they will stay on the Tour, the slow emigration of other players is likely to continue over the next few weeks. LIV Golf is expected to announce a 48-member course at the Portland event earlier this week. It is speculated that a few notable players may be among the latest mistakes.
5. Fans still love Phil
The USGA couldn’t be too excited that Mickelson missed the Masters he loves the most and the PGA Championships he won in 2021 to become the oldest grand champ at the age of 51. aimed at Mickelson’s return to U.S. competitive golf.
Although Mickelson’s press conference on Monday was quite uncomfortable – he skated the hardest questions – his golf fans’ reception was quite welcoming. Of course, there were a few talk about blood money and betrayal, but in general, Boston sports fans, who are well-known among the most moody, were quite warm to Lefty.
Despite admiration, Mickelson had to face harsh realities this week. His days of playing golf against the best players in the world are over. Mickelson beat 11 in the first two rounds, the fifth worst of his career with a 36-hole total. Although we could expect too much from the 52-year-old, who hadn’t played in the US since the end of January, his best days on the track are clearly in the rearview mirror.
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